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Dentists Diagnose Diseases Too

By Jill Feilmeier on July 2, 2013 in Healthy Living

Dentist observing something

Dentists are normally revered as tooth wizards. Everything and anything having to do with teeth, you know you can rely on your dentist to help. But would you be surprised if I told you that your dentist sometimes pulls double duty? A visit to your dentist can be your first line of defense when it comes to diagnosing several chronic health issues.

Your dentist is trained to spot abnormalities in and around your mouth that can be a sign of a medical problem. While there are more than 120 different diseases that show symptoms in and around the mouth, we compiled a list of three to give you an idea of what abnormalities your dentist is on the lookout for during your routine exam and cleaning.

Anemia – Anemia is a condition where your red blood cell count is lower than normal. If you have anemia, you may not be getting the oxygen-rich blood your body needs. Your mouth tissue will appear pale and you may have a swollen and inflamed tongue, called glossitis.

GERD – Dentists are usually the first to spot the serious signs of GERD. GERD is a gastrointestinal disease that causes the acids in your stomach to make their way back into your oral cavity. Dentists can spot the problem in the erosion of your teeth, as this is one of the most common symptoms of GERD.

Diabetes – Oral tissues may reveal lesions or pathology that are the first signs of systemic disease. Diabetics are also at a greater risk to have mouth infections, some as serious as periodontal disease or more commonly known as gum disease. Diabetes and gum disease are a vicious combination since the two diseases work together to create dangers for your oral health and overall health.

Now that you know your dentist doesn't only fix your teeth, remember to schedule appointments to see your dentist twice a year. Preventive checkups provide dentists with opportunities to identify dental diseases and in some cases, other diseases in your body.